I am a man who is currently without the benefit of a physical partner. While I take great comfort in my close partnership with God, I can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of isolation coupled with an intense yearning for human connection.
In today’s self-obsessed world in which we live, we are constantly inundated with messages encouraging us to take pride in our singleness. We are admonished to revel in being unattached and use the time to develop our own identities so that way we are fully able to appreciate the love of someone else. On many levels I can understand this new mindset and the necessity of singleness as a means to self-actualization. But truth is never before have I felt this pressing urge to partner with someone. I don’t know if it’s the changing season or the recent move into my new apartment that sparked this overwhelming hunger for partnership but all I know is that being alone can be very dangerous if not life-threatening!
As I mentioned earlier, I recently moved. Before the start of this move I made extensive to-do lists in order to ensure that everything I needed to do got done in a timely fashion. The preparation alone was extremely daunting as I had so much to do before the actual move. To start, I enlisted the help of some friends and even posted a bulletin on Facebook requesting assistance with this move. I found myself unsure of how I would complete this move. Thankfully four people agreed to help. My heart swelled with an abundance of appreciation and gratitude as I did not think that anyone would offer to assist. To my shock and dismay people came out of the woodwork. I was so happy. Finally I could relax my mistrustful heart and really believe in people again. My faith in humanity was miraculously restored.
Fast forward to moving day, I found myself alone packing the truck with all my precious belongings while scowling inside with a seething bitterness that just wouldn’t let up. As I schlepped all my belongings into the van, I fought back tears of hurt and disappointment. Out of all the people that agreed to help me only one showed up and that was only after I finished packing up all of my belongings into the van.
After this experience I realized so many things. For one I realized the power of God and his undeserved kindness. I realized that the absence of human assistance made room for God’s divine presence and His loving assistance. I was allowed to witness his word in action. He put flesh on what otherwise would have been just the bare bleached bones of His heavy word. Two, I realized that physically I am alone in this world. I have no real friends or actual support system to rely on in times of hardship and distress. Three I realized that I am the only one I can count on. Never before has my loneliness been more palpable than when I had to move. While being single can afford you many freedoms that being in a relationship does not, I have to say that sometimes being single sucks! And if you’re anything like me and currently don’t have the benefit of family or friends to see you through; you will see that not having that added love and support really does place an undue burden on your already overtaxed coping skills.
To be honest when you are single you pay more for everything. You do not have the luxury of benefiting from the “group rate”. Everything these days is geared towards people in partnerships. Advertisements for vacations and day trips always show families and couples enjoying life side by side. Rarely ever do you see a lone wolf traveler braving the wilderness of single experience on travel brochures. And the price is usually a lot higher for those who go it alone creating deep financial disparities between those who have a partner and those who don’t.
Another cost of being single is the cost associated with having to seek outside support. Being single means that you have to hire and pay people to do the things that friends and family should be doing. You might have to pay movers, delivery fees, assembly fees, storage fees, therapists, counselors and other professionals to help you in times of distress. The cost of these tasks are normally offset by having family and friends but when you don’t have the human capital necessary to help you deal with life, you end up spending most of your disposable income trying to do the things that are usually reserved for those claiming to care about you. Truth is being single is not only emotionally taxing, but sometimes it feels like there is a literal monetary tax on being unattached.
Yet another cost that I refer to as a hidden cost of being single is the emotional toll it takes on your ability to trust and even seek out and secure additional relationships with others. After being single for so long, you get accustomed to it. There literally comes a point where you get good at being single. Sometimes you get so good at being single that anything other than your own company feels like an intrusion. This can create not only feelings of intense loneliness but can also lead to the engagement in destructive and risky behaviors as a means to cope with the pain associated with having limited to no support.
Personally I am tired of lamenting my single status and seeking relationships with those who already have their support systems already established. Often times I am encouraged to make friends with those who have lots of friends so that they can introduce me to their friends and gradually my social network will increase through this form of social piggy backing. However what I have discovered when dealing with those who have multiple streams of support is this: you become the one charged with taking all of the initiative to making the friendship work. You are always the one that has to do all the calling, all the texting, all the reaching out. It is the belief that since you want it more, you have to do more to get it. You unwittingly become a fan not a friend and it only compounds the grief and misery associated with realizing your single state.
Being single can be the sweetest gift. Conversely it can also be the bleakest curse. I guess the key to being single is balance. It becomes necessary to balance solitude with involvement and connection. When there is no one, you must learn to feed yourself and graze off the land that you have built alone. Of course, this is in no way an easy thing to do. You will still cry and hunger for love. However, on those days when you feel deathly alone, that is when you have to remember that you are the someone who makes you feel loved. You are the beautiful soul that brings you back to being whole. Giving yourself good love makes you someone and baby you count. Never for one second think that you don’t!